Appalachian State University

Location: Boone, North Carolina
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 4th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Appalachian State University has been given the speech code rating Yellow. Yellow light colleges and universities are those institutions with at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application. Read more here.

  • Appalachian State University: Professor Suspended for Classroom Speech

    March 16, 2012

    In March 2012, tenured professor Jammie Price was placed on administrative leave after students alleged that she had created a hostile environment and strayed from the syllabus in her introductory sociology class. The allegations included making negative comments about the university and its student athletes and showing a documentary on pornography. Although what is known about her pedagogy is likely protected under the canons of academic freedom and does not appear to constitute actionable harassment, App State found her guilty and sentenced her to a development plan featuring “corrective actions” that encroached on her academic freedom, such as unique requirements […]

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  • Appalachian State University: Speech Code Repeal

    April 5, 2006

    With FIRE’s assistance, student activists at Appalachian State University have brought down an unconstitutional speech code. This welcome development was a direct result of a report by FIRE and the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, as well as the efforts of the Appalachian State ACLU.

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  • University of North Carolina System: State of the First Amendment

    January 10, 2006

    FIRE teamed up with the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy to release the Report on the State of the First Amendment in the University of North Carolina System. The Report notes that UNC System’s many speech codes and illiberal restrictions on religious groups would likely not survive a legal challenge. It also reveals that “13 out of the 16 schools in the UNC System have at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.”

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Office of Equity, Diversity and Compliance: Bias

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: June 23, 2017

    What is a bias-related incident?

    Similar to hate crimes, bias incidents are non-criminal activities that harm another because of that person’s membership in a classification, such as race, color, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, age or religion.

    What are some examples of bias-related incidents?

    Depending on the totality of the circumstances, writing a racial epithet in erasable marker on someone’s dry-erase board, making fun of another person because of his or her language or accent, or making insulting comments about someone’s traditional manner of dress or geographic origin are hypothetical examples of a bias-related incident.

    How will the University respond when it learns of hate crimes or bias-related incidents?

    The university is committed to act responsibly when it learns of incidents motivated by hate or bias. Such occurrences, if they constitute a criminal act such as assault or property damage, should be reported to the police and will be fully investigated. Other acts of intolerance may violate university policies or community standards. In those instances we will pursue a range of remedies that may include disciplinary action as well as community education and dialogue.

    When you report a bias incident, university staff will help you determine the possible next steps, explain the relevant processes, and offer counseling and support or refer you to other offices that may provide support.

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  • Code of Student Conduct: Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: June 22, 2017

    Engaging in unwelcome and unsolicited speech or conduct based upon race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, political affiliation, veteran status, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression that creates a hostile environment or circumstances involving quid pro quo exchanges.

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  • Policy 104: Facility Use

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies, Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: June 22, 2017

    Any individual or group, whether affiliated with the University or not, may distribute at any open, exterior campus space, the use of which is not otherwise restricted or scheduled under this Policy, without registration or advance approval, any written materials on the condition that such materials are informational and not for commercial purposes. Any written materials distributed by a group or organization must include the name of the group or organization on the materials. …

    The following areas are designated as Unscheduled Public Speaking areas: (a) Sanford Mall; (b) Durham Park; and (c) the Duck Pond Field behind Trivette Hall are designated as the Unscheduled Public Speaking Areas on the University campus. These areas are available on a first-come first-served basis for noncommercial speech or assembly unless otherwise scheduled. Any use of the Unscheduled Public Speaking Areas scheduled pursuant to this Policy shall have priority over any unscheduled use.

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  • Code of Student Conduct: Sexual Misconduct

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: June 22, 2017

    Engaging in unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it interferes with, denies, or limits an individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s educational program or activities, and is based on circumstances involving quid pro quo sexual harassment, the creation of a hostile environment, or retaliation. Examples include, but are not limited to, unwelcome sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; sexually-based stalking or bullying; and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature (e.g., any act of sexual misconduct as defined in this Code).

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  • Code of Student Conduct: Definitions

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: June 22, 2017

    “Hostile Environment” is an environment that both a reasonable individual would find hostile or abusive and one that the particular individual who is the object of the harassment perceives to be hostile or abusive. Hostile environment is determined by looking at all of the circumstances, including the frequency of the allegedly harassing conduct, its severity, whether it is physically threatening or humiliating, and whether the conduct unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, academic advancement, participation in extracurricular activities or access to University services. In some cases, a single incident may constitute harassment. Examples of conduct that could create or contribute to hostile environment harassment may include, but are not limited to, unwelcome jokes about disability, race, sex, sexual orientation, etc.; offensive or degrading physical contact or coercive behavior, including stroking, patting or similar physical contact; pictures, posters, graffiti or written materials displayed in a workplace or classroom which are offensive or obscene; and exclusion of individuals from meetings or University activities due to their religious beliefs or other protected class status.

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  • Code of Student Conduct: Acts of Harm

    Speech Code Category: Bullying Policies
    Last updated: June 22, 2017

    Bullying/Cyberbullying – Engaging in repeated or severe aggressive behaviors that intimidate, intentionally harm, control, or seek to control another individual physically, mentally, or emotionally. Examples include, but are not limited to, spreading rumors, teasing, taunting, intentionally embarrassing another individual…

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Green Light Policies
  • Policy 110: Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: July 11, 2017

    3.6 Harassment

    3.6.1 Verbal, physical, electronic, or other conduct based upon an individual’s protected status (as defined in this policy) that creates a hostile environment or involves a quid pro quo exchange.

    3.6.2 Hostile Environment Harassment – Unwelcome conduct based on protected status that is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it alters the conditions of education, employment, or participation in a university program or activity, thereby creating an environment that a reasonable person in similar circumstances and with similar identities would find hostile, intimidating, or abusive. An isolated incident, unless sufficiently severe, does not constitute hostile environment harassment.

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  • How Sexual Harassment Codes Threaten Academic Freedom

    October 23, 2015

    By Elizabeth Nolan Brown at In its zeal to spread “gender justice,” the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) threatens to stifle academic freedom and infantilize women, says feminist legal expert and New York Law School Professor Nadine Strossen. At a recent talk at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, the former American Civil Liberties Union head warned that current campus policies to curb sexual harassment are overbroad and dangerous. And while “safety”-mongering students deserve some of the blame, bureaucrats are the biggest progenitors of this paranoid style in American academia. “By threatening to pull […]

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  • App. State to Introduce “Bias Incident Response Teams”

    September 23, 2015

    By James Mietus at Campus Reform The school said the goal of the initiative is to improve diversity on campus. BIRTs will enforce the campus’s harassment policy. Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, has announced a series of initiatives to improve diversity on campus. The student newspaper, The Appalachian, reported on September 22 that a “bias incident response process” will now enforce the campus’s harassment policy. Citing concerns that the university is having difficulty attracting and retaining minority faculty, Bindu Jayne, vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and compliance, told The Appalachian that the goal of the initiative is “to […]

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  • Two NC campuses on worst free speech list

    January 7, 2014

    by Jane Stancill Universities love to tout college rankings, but here’s a top-ten list that two North Carolina campuses won’t like. A group that advocates for basic liberties in higher education has picked two UNC-system campuses for its 2013 “10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech.” The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, put Appalachian State University and UNC-Chapel Hill on its list of campuses that ran afoul of speech freedoms last year. The advocacy group cited the two universities for specific cases that made headlines. At Appalachian State, trustees denied an appeal of a sociology professor, Jammie Price, […]

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  • Foundation for Individual Rights in Education Pens Letter to ASU Board of Trustees in Support of Prof. Jamie Price

    March 28, 2013

    March 28, 2013. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has written to the ASU Board of Trustees in support of sociology professor Jammie Price. Last year, Price was suspended from teaching without a hearing on the basis of in-class comments and the screening of a documentary that critically examines the adult film industry. You can find FIRE’s latest recap of the case at this link. FIRE letter to Appalachian State University Board of Trustees Chair Michael A. Steinback, March 19, 2013 March 19, 2013  Michael A. SteinbackChair, Board of TrusteesAppalachian State University54 Cedar Hill DriveAsheville, North Carolina 28803  Sent Via U.S. Mail and […]

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  • SGA seeks campus-wide free speech

    February 5, 2008

    What do Sanford Mall, Duck Pond Field, Durham Park and the open-air amphitheater outside Plemmons Student Union have in common? They are currently the four locations where students can enjoy unscheduled protests on Appalachian State University’s campus. The SGA Senate voted at its Jan. 29 meeting in favor of new legislation that would revise the current policy to make the entire campus a place of free speech. The legislation was introduced by Senate member and junior criminal justice major Graham P. Shaw. “I read a lot of articles by Mike Adams, a professor at [the University of North Carolina at […]

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  • Appalachian State’s six-foot monument to free speech

    February 26, 2007

    by Mike Adams When one embarks upon a mission to eliminate speech codes from college campuses it’s tough to know where to start. Some codes ban speech that is merely “offensive.” Some ban speech that is “maligning.” Others ban speech that “challenges.” Imagine a college that guarantees a four year education without any fear of being challenged. It’s as easy as imagining a worthless college education. Whatever the reasons, it was just over a year ago today that we agreed to target the speech code at Appalachian State University. The “we” began as a joint effort between the Pope […]

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  • ACLU works toward harrassment policy change

    April 13, 2006

    Thanks to efforts by national and campus organizations, Appalachian State University’s Housing & Residence Life department has removed an unconstitutional section from its harassment policy. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy mentioned the policy in question in their “Report on the State of the First Amendment in the University of North Carolina System,” published in January. The policy stated, “harassment or the use of abusive language, insults, taunts or challenges directed toward another person are prohibited.” According to the report, “this policy is unconstitutionally overbroad.” After reading the report, […]

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  • The Problematic State of Free Speech at North Carolina Universities

    July 29, 2016

    There should be no place safer for free speech and academic freedom than a public university. After all, as state agents, they are legally—and morally—bound to respect their students’ constitutional rights. So why have many of the public universities in my home state of North Carolina egregiously violated the rights of their students? Why does Duke University, the private institution I attend, uphold the values of “freedom of inquiry and the free exchange of ideas,” while many of its nearby public counterparts fail to do so despite identical obligations? With the exception of Duke University and the University of North […]

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  • After Ruling, Select Due Process Claims to Proceed in Student Lawsuit Against University, Administrators

    July 31, 2015

    Many students who believe they were denied due process in campus sexual assault proceedings have turned to the courts, alleging that they were deprived of critical rights and, often, that they were victims of sex discrimination in violation of Title IX. On the whole, those cases have been an uphill battle for plaintiffs, although a recent decision in a case involving the University of California, San Diego took a very robust view of public university students’ due process rights, potentially improving the legal landscape for future plaintiffs. Meanwhile, others proceed. One of the cases currently working its way through the […]

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  • FIRE’s Robert Shibley Speaking at Appalachian State University This Evening

    March 3, 2014

    Students and FIRE supporters in the Boone, North Carolina, area are invited to hear FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley speak at Appalachian State University (ASU) tonight at 7 p.m. in the Beacon Heights of Plemmons Student Union.

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  • Media Continues to Report on FIRE’s ’10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech’ List

    January 17, 2014

    In early January we reported on the coverage that FIRE’s list of 2013’s worst colleges for free speech received from various local media outlets. Over the past few weeks, the press has continued to draw attention to the nefarious reputation that these schools have developed for violating students’ and professors’ free speech rights. In North Carolina, which holds the dubious honor of being home to two schools on our 2013 list, both local and student-run newspapers have written about the free speech mistakes made by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and Appalachian State University (ASU). Raleigh newspaper The News & Observer notes that […]

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  • North Carolina Newspaper: Free Speech ‘Indispensable Ally’ of Tolerance

    January 6, 2014

    An eloquent editorial penned by the editors of North Carolina newspaper The Wilson Times takes the state’s public colleges and universities to task for failing to respect student free speech rights. The editors note that FIRE recently named two North Carolina institutions—Appalachian State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—to our annual list of the nation’s “Worst Colleges for Free Speech.” The editors point out that, unfortunately, these two schools aren’t outliers: Five North Carolina colleges earn “red light” rankings in FIRE’s Spotlight database for maintaining policies that clearly and substantially restrict protected expression on campus. Calling on the state’s colleges and universities […]

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  • The 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2013

    December 27, 2013

    College is where inquisitive minds go to be exposed to new ways of thinking. But on some campuses, the quest for knowledge is frustrated when administrators censor speech they would prefer be kept out of the marketplace of ideas. To close out the year, we at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) want to highlight some of the worst colleges for free speech since March 2012—the last time we published this list. (Our first list, from 2011, is here.) Most of the schools we include in this year’s list are public colleges or universities bound by the First Amendment. But some of […]

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  • The End to My ‘Sexy’ Academic Career

    July 26, 2013

    Madeline Gootman is a FIRE summer intern. As most of my friends will tell you, I am an outspoken young woman when it comes to matters of sexuality and sexual health. I recently joined the Vanderbilt Peer Sex Educators, an organization of students formed to increase the campus dialogue surrounding sexual health. In addition to my extracurriculars surrounding sexuality (I also work at the Women’s Center on campus), I am majoring in Women and Gender Studies. After hearing about my very feminist list of extracurriculars, a reasonable person might assume that I would not have a problem with the May […]

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  • Please Explain Why Putting University Administrators in Charge of Judging Speech Is a Good Idea

    July 9, 2013

    My colleagues have done a thorough job of explaining why defenders of the Department of Education’s “blueprint” for preventing campus sexual harassment are on very shaky legal and logical ground. They have pointed out that some of ED’s allies have misquoted the findings letter and mocked Senator John McCain’s serious questions about the threat to free speech and about OCR’s authority to impose this blueprint. Other defenders of the blueprint have brushed away concerns by portraying its definition of sexual harassment as “any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature” as simply a way of encouraging reporting. Instead of talking past […]

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  • Bell Tolls for Appalachian State Chancellor, Not the Liberty Bell!

    April 23, 2013

    There’s an old saying FIRE recycles on occasion to mark the end of a university president’s tenure when that tenure has been marred by a disregard for campus free speech: The bell tolls for [insert name of president here]—not the Liberty Bell! It’s been a long time since we dusted off that FIRE favorite, but the time is ripe to break it out again to commemorate the resignation of Appalachian State University Chancellor Kenneth Peacock (who will stay on until a successor is named). The academic freedom case of sociology professor Jammie Price explains why. As we’ve chronicled, Price was […]

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  • App State Faculty Senate Votes ‘No Confidence’ In Two Top Academic Administrators

    March 26, 2013

    Appalachian State University Sign – Photo via The Appalachian, the student paper at Appalachian State University, reports that yesterday the university’s Faculty Senate passed motions voting “no confidence” in Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Gonzalez and Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Anthony Carey. According to The Appalachian, “[t]he motions were brought about by a petition received by the Faculty Senate Executive Board March 4, according to the agenda summary of the March 25 Faculty Senate meeting.” Gonzalez and Carey both figured prominently in App State’s wrongful sanctions against tenured sociology professor Jammie Price, who was removed from teaching without […]

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  • FIRE Supports Appeal of Unjustly Punished Appalachian State Professor

    March 25, 2013

    Appalachian State University Campus. Wikimedia Commons.  Last week, FIRE sent a letter to Appalachian State University’s (App State’s) Board of Trustees supporting the grievance of tenured sociology professor Jammie Price, who in 2012 was wrongly suspended without due process and ordered to complete a “professional development plan” that violated her academic freedom. FIRE has followed Price’s case since it became public and first expressed our concerns over Price’s treatment to App State Chancellor Kenneth A. Peacock in May 2012.   Media attention for Price’s case has been widespread. The Chronicle of Higher Education has covered it repeatedly. So has Inside Higher […]

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  • ‘Daily Tar Heel’ on Jammie Price Case at Appalachian State

    December 3, 2012

    Last week, The Daily Tar Heel at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill covered a case of interest both locally to North Carolina residents and to those around the country who care about academic freedom: that of tenured professor Jammie Price at Appalachian State University (ASU).  Price was placed on administrative leave last spring after students alleged that she created a hostile environment and strayed from the syllabus while teaching her introductory sociology class. Despite the fact that her pedagogy seems to be protected under the canons of academic freedom and does not appear to constitute actionable harassment, […]

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  • ‘Watauga Democrat’ on FIRE’s ‘Spotlight’ Report, Appalachian State’s Speech Codes

    February 14, 2012

    Writing for the Watauga Democrat of Boone, North Carolina, Anna Oakes picks up on FIRE’s recent speech code report, Spotlight on Speech Codes 2012: The State of Free Speech on Our Nation’s Campuses, and highlights the “red light” rating that Appalachian State University (ASU) receives for maintaining an unconstitutional harassment policy. (ASU additionally maintains three “yellow light” policies.) Oakes’ article notes that ASU’s red light policy lists, as examples of actionable harassment, such protected speech as “commenting inappropriately on someone’s appearance,” “sexual innuendoes & comments,” and “imposing religious beliefs on others,” among others. One can imagine a wide swath of […]

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  • Under Pressure, Appalachian State Revises Licensing Policy

    September 8, 2009

    As The Appalachian, a student newspaper at Appalachian State University (ASU), reported last week, the Appalachian State chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has successfully intervened on behalf of students whose speech was threatened by ASU’s trademarking and licensing policy, resulting in changes to the policy to make it more compatible with principles of free speech and fair use. ASU student groups and university departments are, in most cases, required to ask for approval from ASU’s Office of Trademarks and Licensing when producing materials using ASU’s logos or variations of the university’s name. According to the ACLU, however, […]

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  • A Message to Students

    April 5, 2006

    At FIRE, we stand ready and willing to help students whose expressive rights have been violated by their universities. Another key part of our mission, however, is to provide students with tools they can use to stand up for their own rights. Our Report on the State of the First Amendment in the University of North Carolina System provided such a tool to graduate student Paul Funderburk, president of the ACLU of Appalachian State University. After the Report publicized Appalachian State’s unconstitutional harassment policy, Funderburk took action. He met with administrators and urged them to repeal the policy, which prohibited […]

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  • Speech Code Falls at Appalachian State University

    April 5, 2006

    BOONE, N.C., April 5, 2006—With the assistance of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), student activists at Appalachian State University (App State) have brought down an unconstitutional speech code. This welcome development was a direct result of a recent report by FIRE and the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, as well as the efforts of the App State ACLU. “Our Report on the State of the First Amendment in the University of North Carolina System showed that universities like App State have a lot of work to do,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “But every […]

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